Jiffy Lube ruined my car engine. Why won’t it pay $12,998 for repairs?

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By Christopher Elliott

The engine in Ali Cotton’s Nissan Altima is damaged after he brings it to Jiffy Lube for an inspection. Does the company have to pay his $12,998 repair bill?

Question

I went to Jiffy Lube for an inspection. They somehow removed my oil plug and drained all my oil out, which ultimately ruined the engine. 

I had my car towed to the dealership, which confirmed that the oil plug was missing and the engine was ruined. The repairs on my 2016 Nissan Altima will cost $12,998. Can you help me get Jiffy Lube to compensate me for the damage? — Ali Cotton, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Answer

Jiffy Lube should have inspected your car — not drained the oil from it without replacing it. 

You had some compelling evidence that Jiffy was at fault, which you sent to the company in writing.

It looks like you gave Jiffy Lube every chance to respond to your request. You sent an email to the corporate office, which deferred to the franchisee. Then you contacted the franchisee but did not hear back. 

This isn’t the first Jiffy Lube case involving a damaged engine. My advocacy team and I resolved a similar problem for one of our readers a few months ago. 

Jiffy Lube offers a limited repair warranty that should cover your damage. It covers “Engine performance, drivability services and repairs” for 12 months or 12,000 miles, so it looks like it would apply to your damaged engine.

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What to do if Jiffy Lube ruined your car engine

This isn’t our first Jiffy Lube engine damage case, and I have a feeling it won’t be our last. So let’s review the steps to addressing engine damage:

Document the damage

Take pictures and videos of the damage caused to your car’s engine. Visual evidence can be invaluable in supporting your case. (Related: Nissan dealership won’t honor its warranty on my used car.)

Contact Jiffy Lube

Reach out to the management of the Jiffy Lube location where the service was performed as soon as possible. Explain the situation calmly and show them evidence of the damage. Jiffy Lube may ask you to fill out a claim form. Remember to keep a copy of the form for your records. (Here’s our guide to resolving your consumer problem.)

Get a second opinion

Request documentation of damage from a reputable third-party mechanic or automotive expert. This documentation can serve as independent verification of the harm done to your vehicle. (Related: I don’t “trust the Midas touch” anymore!)

Ask for help

If Jiffy Lube refuses to cover the costs of repair, reach out to Jiffy Lube through our executive contacts. You may also want to contact an attorney who specializes in consumer protection issues if the damage is substantial. Of course, my advocacy team is always happy to help.

Don’t give up. Jiffy Lube’s corporate structure means you may get bounced between a Jiffy Lube franchisee and the corporate office. Don’t be deterred. If Jiffy Lube damaged your car’s engine, you deserve to be compensated.

How Jiffy Lube ruined your car — and why this case was stalled

One of the problems with making a warranty claim is proving that the damage happened when you had your car serviced by Jiffy Lube. How can you prove that it wasn’t something else? In your case, it appears Jiffy Lube inspected your Nissan Altima and gave it a green light, meaning that your car was in good shape. Immediately after that, your engine light went on and you sustained $12,998 in damage to your engine.

Jiffy Lube should have responded to your request, but it looks as if it didn’t, based on the paper trail you provided. When that happens, you need to escalate your case to a higher level. I publish the names, numbers and email addresses of the customer service executives at Jiffy Lube on this site.

You reached out to my advocacy team for help. I contacted Jiffy Lube on your behalf. A manager called you, and after some negotiation, Jiffy Lube agreed to cover $9,000 of your repair bill, which you accepted. 

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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